Friars of the Past: Andy Benes Selected Number 1 Overall by Padres

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Credit: AP Photo

Andy Benes was a 6-foot-6, 240-pound pitcher, a young kid that scouts called “a Roger Clemens in shoulder pads.” In 1988, the San Diego Padres drafted him No. 1 overall in the MLB First Year Player Draft.

Benes was a junior at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana, when the Padres drafted him. During that junior season at Evansville, Benes had a 16-3 record, with 13 complete games and eight shutouts. He had an eye-popping 5.22 K/BB ratio.

Benes spent six seasons with the Padres. He had a 69-75 record while with the club, posting a 3.57 ERA. He racked up 1,036 strikeouts over that span.

Benes made his MLB debut on Aug. 11, 1989. The Padres played against the Atlanta Braves at Jack Murphy Stadium. Benes took the loss in that game, allowing six runs on six hits. He gave up three home runs in the game. He had four walks and seven strikeouts. Atlanta won the game 6-5.

Benes was a 15-game winner twice while with San Diego. He went 15-11 in 1992, and 15-15 in 1994. He was named an MLB All-Star in 1993.

Benes’ best game while with the Padres perhaps came on July 3, 1994. In a New York Times article dated July 4, 1994, Jennifer Frey tells a story about something that made Benes “absolutely livid.”

Randy Smith, the general manager at the time, told Baseball America that Benes might be classified as the Padres’ third starter, despite being the team’s ace. Smith said this was because of how well Andy Ashby and Joey Hamilton were pitching. Benes had a 5-9 record at that point in the season.

Smith’s comments made Benes angry, the article said, and he took his anger out on the New York Mets. Benes pitched a complete game one-hitter in a 7-0 Padres victory. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, which was broken up by Rico Brogna during that inning.

On July 31, 1995 (the trade deadline), Benes and a player to be named later were traded to the Seattle Mariners for Ron Villone and Marc Newfield. That player to be named later was Greg Keagle, who was sent to Seattle on September 17.

The Mariners granted Benes free agency after the 1995 season. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on December 23, 1995.

Benes spent three seasons with the Cardinals. In 1996, he won 18 games and finished third in N.L. Cy Young Award voting.

After leaving the Cardinals, Benes signed a three-year/$18 million contract with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. Benes threw the first pitch in Diamondbacks history, when he was the starter for their debut on March 31, 1998, at Bank One Ballpark.

After those three years with Arizona, Benes was again signed by the Cardinals. He played for them for three more seasons, and retired from Major League Baseball after the 2002 season.

Benes’ career spanned 15 seasons. He finished with 155 wins and 2,000 strikeouts.

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